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There's a New Cyber-Security Chief in Town

Wednesday, October 6, 2004; 10:04 AM

It looks as if Amit Yoran decided that it's not worth being on the totem pole if he can't be top bird. The Bush administration's cyber-security chief officially parted ways last week with the Department of Homeland Security, saying it was time to pursue new opportunities. According to nearly every other reliable source, however, it was because the department couldn't be persuaded to make cyber-security a priority. And when you're cyber-security director, that can't be a good feeling.

Or, as the Post quoted Cyber Security Industry Alliance Executive Director Paul Kurtz as saying: "Cyber-security has fallen down on the totem pole." Kurtz said the resignation "underscores a concern in the private sector that government is not taking the issue seriously enough."

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Yoran told the Post that he supports President Bush's national cyberspace protection strategy, but giving one day's notice that you're leaving (as the Associated Press reported Yoran did) is not universally regarded as a goodwill gesture.

Yoran's deputy, Andy Purdy, will take over as acting director, according to an e-mail memo written by Robert Liscouski, Homeland Security's assistant secretary for infrastructure protection and Yoran's former boss. Purdy previously served as a senior adviser for IT security and privacy to the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. He also served as senior counsel to a special House committee that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Microsoft's Rough Patch

A Microsoft official said last week that the company is trying to simplify the process of downloading and installing a patch that fixes a recently discovered security flaw in its Windows operating system and several other products. Stephen Toulouse, program manager at Microsoft's security response team, acknowledged that applying the patch, which fixes a hole that could allow hackers to take control of someone else's computer, is a difficult process that could prove too time-consuming for home PC users. The hole, discovered in Windows XP, Server 2003 and Microsoft Office, would let hackers infect computers by planting a worm in digital "JPEG" image files. The worm would be able to spread merely by having a computer user click on the file or open an e-mail containing a JPEG image.

washingtonpost.com has instructions on how to patch the flaw.

The Post also ran reviews of several popular anti-spyware and PC security products, as well as a story on what Akamai Corp. does to make sure that the Internet functions quickly and safely.

Campaigns Prefer Couch Potatoes to Chips

The Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards campaigns have spent more money online than any other campaign in history, but it's a mere drop in the Gobi compared to the millions they're laying down for television spots, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That in itself isn't so surprising. The real meat is in its exploration of the campaigns' online strategies:

"The Bush campaign directed many of its ads at women with children and voters in swing states. Nine of its top 20 Web sites are based in battleground states, including those for KPTV, a Fox television affiliate in Portland, Ore.; El Nuevo Herald, the Miami Herald's Spanish edition; and KPHO, a television station in Phoenix. Seven others targeted women: Parents.com, ParentCenter.com and Ladies' Home Journal Online, among them... The Kerry campaign, which has focused much of its advertising on raising money, preferred sites that reached Democrats in metropolitan areas and those of national news organizations. The campaign's top 20 sites included those of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, both major Seattle newspapers and the LA Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Los Angeles. Eight others were major news sites, including Newsweek.com, CNN.com and Reuters.com." Not to mention washingtonpost.com as well ...

And finally, be sure to check out Cynthia L. Webb's Tuesday edition of Filter to see how other media outlets covered the Pew report.

Robert MacMillan, washingtonpost.com Tech Policy Editor

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